I learned from Waverly Fitzgerald many years ago that many of our common practices on the Fourth of July here in the states hearkens back to ancient Midsummer celebrations. She has a great blog post about that very thing today:
I like to think of Fourth of July as a secular version of pagan Midsummer festivals.
Like many historical holidays, Fourth of July seems to have co-opted many of the symbols of the earlier celebrations at this time of year. For centuries at Summer Solstice, people stayed up all night, dancing around bonfires and rolling burning wheels down the hillsides, to honor the sun. On Fourth of July, we set off pinwheels in the street (evoking the circle, the symbol of the sun), wave sparklers around in the darkness (they look like the embers dancing up from a bonfire) and gaze at fireworks blazing overhead late into the night.
Read the rest of Waverly's post here.
It also occurs to me that, as we celebrate our Independence, let us also celebrate our Interdependence.
The Global Declaration of Interdependence:
In acknowledgment of the many existing documents and efforts that promote peace, sustainability, global interconnectedness, reverence for life and unity, We, The World hereby offers the following Declaration of Interdependence as a guiding set of principles. It is inspired by the Earth Charter, the essential values of which represent those of the many peoples of the Earth.
We, the people of planet Earth,
In recognition of the interconnectedness of all life
And the importance of the balance of nature,
Hereby acknowledge our interdependence
And affirm our dedication
To life-serving environmental stewardship,
The fulfillment of universal human needs worldwide,
Economic and social well-being,
And a culture of peace and nonviolence,
To ensure a sustainable and harmonious world
For present and future generations.